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Thursday, August 26, 2010

MVP Mike Trout And The Future Of The Angels

Occasionally, I write a post that's pretty much just for me. Sometimes it's necessary to shake loose writers block, sometimes it's to vent about a baseball issue that's bothering me, sometimes it's simply to ramble on about Mike Trout. Well, today you get the perfect storm of all three. Mike Trout was named the MVP of his low A league today so we're going to start with him.

Trout hit 6 home runs and .362/.454/.526 with 45 stolen bases as an 18-year-old at Cedar Rapids. Even with his absurd .420 BABIP, that's a damn impressive stat line for a kid that young. During the Future's Game at the All Star break, scouts were talking (on Twitter) about Trout having 80 speed while being built like a linebacker. Trout was promoted to high A and has struggled a bit. The BABIP tumbled to a slightly more realistic .344 and he's got a couple of home runs to go with a .294/.368/.405 line. Still enough to be the top prospect in the minors as a freshly turned 19-year-old, isn't that right Keith Law...
Ben S (NJ)

Who's the top prospect remaining in the minors?

Klaw (1:52 PM)

Mike Trout.
See?

Trout gives Angels fans something to be excited about in an otherwise disappointing season. My beloved Halos have struggled this season and an early season-ending injury to Kendry Morales and mid season-ending injury to Joel Pinero certainly didn't help. The Angels are 10 games back in the AL West and 2 games under .500. I'm guessing the team .319 OBP is a problem but I'm sure they'll finish with a winning record despite a negative run differential yet again. But that's probably fodder for another post.

Jered Weaver is having an ace caliber season leading the league in strikeouts with a sustainable 3.31 FIP and a 3.03 WPA. Ervin Santana is back to his inconsistent self posting a 4.51 FIP and a 1.89 WPA. I'm still cautiously optimistic that Santana can at least be a decent to good mid-rotation starter. The crown jewel of the Angels season was a pre-deadline deal that landed the Halos Dan Haren over the next several seasons at a below market price. With Pinero returning, the rotation should be solid next year.

The bullpen, ugh. Scot Shields and Brian Fuentes should be departing so right there you get some solid addition by subtraction. I have hope for Kevin Jepsen and recently transitioned Jordan Walden. I'm more skeptical about Fransisco Rodriguez Part Two but, as I previously mentioned, I'm no scout. The bullpen should be more effective next season despite what Fernando Rodney has to say about it.

The infield seems to be more or less set with Kendry Morales returning to his slugging role at first base. Howie Kendrick will man second and hopefully become that batting average title contender that he appeared to be in the minors. Erick Aybar will handle short and probably leadoff with his glistening .322 OBP but he plays "Scioscia Ball" so, um, there. Third base will be manned by some sort of Alberto Callaspo/Brandon Wood combo. *wipes away tears* Mike Napoli is no world class receiver behind the plate but he can at least provide some pop. Jeff Mathis and his .220 OBP should be jettisoned to 1902. Hank Conger is on his way up from Triple A but I doubt Scioscia will be a big fan of his receiving skills.

If you made it this far, you're in for a treat. The outfield future of the Angels gets me excited in a way that your sister used to. The Halos called up next-to-top-prospect Peter Bourjos to man center while moving Torii Hunter to right field. Hunter is having a fine season with 18 homers and a .290/.369/.482 line. Is he worth $18 million per season? I don't know but he is a hell of an ambassador for the Angels. The Angels plan on pursuing Carl Crawford in the offseason and wisely put his locker next to Hunter's for the All Star Game.

Allow me to wildly speculate on the Angels hot stove spending. Arte Moreno has no problem opening up the check book when he feels it's deserved and to land Crawford, he might have to write a blank check. Putting Carl Crawford next to Peter Bourjos in center and across the field from Torii Hunter in right, you have the best defensive outfield in baseball. With Trout getting a cup of coffee as a 20-year-old next season, the Halos outfield situation makes me almost schoolgirl giddy.

So fellow Angels fans, there is hope for next season. It also doesn't hurt that the only real competition in the West is a pretty good Texas Rangers team. The A's just keep spinning their wheels and nobody knows what's going on in Seattle. Or maybe I just wrote 700 words to get me through the last month of the regular season.

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